Held Prisoner by a Toy Factory

Do not under any circumstances miss David Barboza of the New York Times’s remarkable article, My Time as a Hostage, and I’m a Business Reporter. I guarantee that having read it you’ll know a heckuva lot more about the realities of China today. A sample:

Thus began our interrogation, which was followed by hours of negotiations, the partial closing of the factory complex and the arrival of several police cars, a handful of helmet-wearing security officers and some government officials, all trying to free an American journalist and his colleagues from a toy factory.


Factory bosses, I would discover, can overrule the police, and Chinese government officials are not as powerful as you might suspect in a country addicted to foreign investment.


Many experts have told me that one of the most serious problems in China is that the government lacks the power to control the nation’s Wild West entrepreneurs, deal makers and connected factory owners.


“People have this idea they are Big Brother and everyone is under watch,” Mr. Shenkar said. “But this is not China. In China, local authorities often turn a blind eye to problems because maybe they’re invested in it.”

Mr. Barboza was following the story of the recent Thomas the Tank Engine toy recall. But this is China and you may believe you know what you’re dealing with but you don’t.

4 comments… add one
  • I am duly impressed. Give the Times credit for not sitting on it. I guess that proves China really isn’t communist any more — the Times will criticize it!

  • I honestly hope that’s it, Ron. My concern is that there’s a concerted move towards isolationism afoot.

  • In China or in America?

  • America. Just today as I made my normal rounds looking for new info on the pet food recall story I found a half-dozen anti-Chinese op-eds.

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